'Swiss cheese' Bronx bridge repaired after 7 On Your Side investigation

MOTT HAVEN, The Bronx (WABC) -- Just days after a 7 On Your Side investigation revealed grapefruit size holes in the critical support columns of a Bronx bridge, the state Department of Transportation made major repairs.

The heavily trafficked 138th Street overpass was in an alarming state of disrepair, according to two structural engineers who said the bridge needed immediate attention.

The main support columns of the four-lane span over the Major Deegan Expressway looked like Swiss cheese, with huge holes rusted at least six steel girders.

Now, heavy steel-reinforced plates cover the holes.

"So this column has been repaired," structural engineer David Peraza said. "It surprised me how severe and how widespread the corrosion was and how obvious it was."

In our initial report, Peraza said the weakened columns needed immediate repairs for fear the bridge might collapse.

Extensive work was done following our investigation, and Peraza seemed relieved.

"That is a robust repair that will return it to its original strength," he said.

The state Department of Transportation insists the dangerously corroded steel columns had been scheduled for repairs. In a statement to us, a spokesman said, ''This work is part of an ongoing maintenance to the bridge's steel columns that was scheduled for February and has now been completed."

But Peraza, who has decades experience as a structural engineer, says he can't understand how inspectors allowed the bridge to deteriorate for years:

"It raises a question of how a bridge could get to this condition when it's being inspected every two years," he said. "This condition took much longer than two years to develop, so the question is, why wasn't this picked up sooner?"

DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATED? Jim Hoffer, Danielle Leigh and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW. You can also contact Jim and Danielle directly: Jim Hoffer: Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideJim@abc.com Facebook: facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc Twitter: @NYCinvestigates Danielle Leigh Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDanielle@abc.com Facebook: DanielleLeighJournalist Twttier: @DanielleNLeigh

Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.